The owner of the Armory — who uses part of the space to make sex-machine, rope-bondage and erotic-wrestling movie magic — is trying to prevent his neighbor from erecting an eight-unit apartment building he says would compromise the property’s historic integrity.
Peter Acworth — the owner of the Armory in the Mission district and the website Kink.com, which has hard-core, fetish-based adult entertainment studios in the space — wants the Planning Commission to require developers to lower the height of the building to protect the façade and natural-light source for the drill court. Currently vacant, Acworth wants the drill court to become a community center.
“My concern is having neighbors so close, within four feet, that they’re inevitable to complain during events,” Acworth said.
The project’s developers disagree. They say the new building would not significantly affect the Armory, and requiring a lower height would cost the project two of its eight units. Plus, any restrictions could set a precedent for other housing projects planned near the Armory.
“Any action you take may hurt both property owners significantly,” said Tony Kim, who addressed the Historic Preservation Commission on behalf of the developers at a meeting Wednesday.
The Planning Commission asked the Historic Preservation Commission to submit comments about the project planned for 49 Julian Ave. before the proposal is considered Nov. 10. Most members agreed the project should move forward, though some shared Acworth’s concerns.
“I think it’s in the interest of The City to have the Armory be an economic success,” Commissioner Alan Martinez said.
Martinez agreed with Acworth that the apartment building would negatively affect the Armory’s natural light. He suggested the apartments be set back farther from the Armory.
Commissioner Richard S.E. Johns said while the project will have negative impacts on the Armory, it should still move forward in an effort to encourage housing development in The City.
“There are points that indicate the eventual situation will not be perfect, but we don’t live in a perfect world,” Johns said. “We live in a world of compromise and accommodation, so on the whole we can all live together.”
Acworth purchased the Armory in 2006 to house studios for Kink.com. He has plans to turn the drill court into a community center that could hold more than 4,000 people.
The drill court — with its arced roof and tall, narrow windows — would be most affected by the 50-foot-tall apartment building, Acworth said.